The daily morning session was over and everyone scurried like frightened chicken back to their work stations. It was a Monday and though most consider it a slow day, at our office this was the busiest day of the week. The scoops had to be taken, the targets set, and with the bosses’ sweaty nose breathing over everyone’s shoulder, there was no room for idling. At the corner of my eye, I could see him making a beeline for my desk. Why can’t he go away for heaven’s sake!
My hangover wasn’t letting off and the last thing I wanted was some spoilt brat lecturing me on how to do a job he didn’t even understand. No sooner had I placed my note pad down than his sweaty body created a shadow all over my desk. He was a towering hulk and sometimes, I wished God had been more accurate in calculating the ratio of his brain to the mass of his body.
“My man Steve,” he intoned. He looked even scarier with what seemed like a smile on his face. I instantly knew he was up to something when he leaned towards me though it wouldn’t have been a bother were it not for the gust of pungent breath that hit my nostrils.
“My man, I have something big for you, it will change your career and maybe, just maybe, your way up the ladder might be cleared, he he he!” I tried to smile back while holding my breath to avoid chocking. I wondered whether his wife wanted to murder him by feeding him rotten eggs and garlic for breakfast.
“Sir, what is the big job?” My voice was quivering with excitement in spite of the acrid breath. Anytime J.K talked of something big, the story always turned to be so and circulation would shoot up for our struggling celebrity gossip magazine.
“There is a pastor, one of the richest in the city. He has a mistress and has a reserved suite in Blitz hotel, do you know it? By now, I could feel stitches scudding through my body. As the senior investigative reporter, it was my duty to bring the juiciest gossip to the magazine and having been promised the chief editor’s job, I knew this could open the always clogged doorway to success.
“Sir, isn’t that the hotel where that Nigerian superstar was staying? Anyway how did you get the leak?”J.K was silent for a minute and then with a stern face, he whispered,
“I don’t know how you will get into that room,” he continued deliberately ignoring my question, “set a camera and a microphone and get out unnoticed. He is never in the room during the afternoons and remember, if caught, I don’t even know you and you are on your own.” I was anxiously waiting for the clincher which sounded more like a caveat emptor. J.K had connections high up and though he owned the magazine, we were expected to do the dirty work without ever dragging him into our murky business. My heart was now pulsating faster than that of a Kenyan minister facing a corruption scandal.
Within a minute, I had summoned my team including the driver, technician and an assistant. We were the bad boys of Sleaze Week magazine and everyone attested to that. Pastor Ken was the most flamboyant of the contemporary evangelical big men who preached the gospel of the wallet. It was rumoured he had a helicopter and a full security detail and I knew it was going to be tough.
My idea was to approach one of the cleaners at the hotel pretending to be police and after parting with a few thousands, then everything would be organized. After setting the gadgets, we were to meet with the technician in our van and wait for our biggest scoop ever! It was a foolproof plan and everyone toasted to my ingenuity. As they made the final arrangements I quickly called my wife Cynthia.
“Hi sweetie, I am sorry we will have to cancel our evening outing as I am going out of town for a brief assignment. I will be back by tomorrow evening. I love you!” She sounded excited despite the fact that we had arranged the evening out to patch up our withering relationship. Women! You can never get them.
The room was magnificent and as I quickly fixed the miniature camera on the ceiling, I envied the lucky lady who would be sprawled on the immaculately made bed. The Persian wall to wall carpet looked so soft that I felt the urge to lie on it for a second. My camera was set and I jumped on to the fluffy rug to fix the mic on one of the bed stands. The driver and the technician were keeping guard at the lobby to avoid any bust up.
The microphone was stubborn. It was larger and conspicuous from whichever angle. As I tried fixing it on the window drapes, I heard noises coming towards the presidential suite. My watch told me it was 2 pm and there was no way the pastor could risk such an hour for a tryst. As the key turned in the main door I ducked under the bed. My wish to lie on the carpet had inadvertently come true but at the rate which my heart was running, I knew it was most likely to be the last comfort for me this side of the sky.
How could the fools at the lobby have missed the pastor? The voices were already in suite and pastor’s husky voice tempered by the amorous giggling of a woman filled the air. My system was failing and my eyes were already seeing visions of heaven. There I was before St. Peter explaining why I was shot under a pastor’s bed. The tinkling of the glasses clearly indicated the pastor and his catch were having a drink and I could clearly guess it wasn’t the blood of Jesus, what a scoop this would have been!
My heart constricted like a boa swallowing a bitter boar at the knowledge that my career was coming to an early demise. Was it a set up by J.K to get rid of me? As the conspiracy theories started swimming in my brain like fish high on poison from an oil spill, the voices started flowing towards the bedroom and I cursed like a rainmaker bawling at a dry wind.
“Honey, I told you no one would see us. My door at the back is reserved only for the prominent people like me. This day is ours to enjoy till dusk.”
I could see his large feet but the lady’s were not visible. Oh, I realized, she was being carried to bed, if only such romance was being shown to the wife! Within a second clothes were flying all over, a tie here, a shirt there, a thong smacking the lucky wall…it was raining clothes and in a moment the bed started a rhythm I wished I didn’t recognize. The ooohs! and aaahhs! were beating my ears like cold hailstones in a storm.
My only prayer was for the camera and the microphone to be working,
“Pastor dear, oh, Ken dear why can’t you marry me dear, I will leave that foolish sot for you, just divorce that useless bitch…” At that point my ears stood up suddenly, the voice was definitely familiar, and in fact it was a voice I had heard a few hours earlier!
“Cynn dear, you know that is tough let’s just enjoy it this way. If I divorce no one will come to my church and I will lose all my influence. Please let’s finish first and we will talk later honey…”
“No Ken, I have lived a lie for three years now, I have aborted thrice coz I don’t want his baby. I am just waiting for you dear. Do you imagine surviving with a good for nothing voyeur calling himself an investigative journalist? When he called me to say he is going out of town I called the one I love and that’s you!” My head started spinning, my eyes started watering and my groin suddenly became hot with piss.
Was this my wife cheating on me and was I the hapless witness? And what was that she said about abortions? So I would be a father of three already by now? And all that ridicule I lapped from my dad over my low libido! Calm down, calm down, I told myself. Worse things have happened. I couldn’t risk coming from under the bed. The shame and embarrassment would have made my breakfast spill all over the carpet. The silent whirl of the tape recorder in my shirt pocket was my only solace as I knew I had evidence to confront her but how?
“Ken honey, you remember that time I forgave you over the affair with Linda? You promised me you would divorce your wife and marry me. Do you imagine if I had told my husband over the affair? Steve would have told J.K definitely so as to get a promotion and what about you? Your congregation would have been livid knowing you had an affair with the Sleazy Magazine owner’s wife?”
“Cynthia please, let’s not go to the past, we will get a way out of this all. I can even arrange for my wife to disappear, you know, and then being single again I will take you!”
My ears were already hot now. It was as if someone had accidentally delved a sword in my heart and then just for fun, twisted it over and over again. God what did I do to deserve this! I pitied J.K the man who never lost a chance to parade his wife in public as the paragon of fidelity. Nevertheless, I wished for the consolation of his ignorance. As they say, what you don’t know can’t hurt you!
“Honey we have to go. I have to attend the convention at Uhuru Park. There is a politician who wants to get saved just to win my congregation’s support and I can’t resist his offer. I promise we will resolve this issue later but Steve should NEVER get any hint,” The pastor was now in his element.
“After hearing the submissions from both sides, I still have one question for the defendant. You still stand by your earlier statement that you accept the divorce because you can’t desist from checking under your bed before you sleep?” The judge’s baritone boomed throughout the court room jolting even the deaf.
There was laughter but if could read my face, I knew there was only pain and humiliation. On my table was an envelope containing the video and audio tapes that could incriminate my wife but I had already taken enough ridicule. Through her lawyer, she had argued that my suspicious behaviour could be a sign of maniac depression and I never refuted their claims.
From where I sat, I could see J.K clutching his wife’s waist as if their love was born in cupid’s bedroom, if only he knew. At the last bench was Pastor Ken resplendent in a silk suit.
“Young man, your counsel has advised the court that you refused to take a mental examination and in a case like this, the court has no power to force you. In view of this then it is the considered judgement of the court that the divorce is granted as per the wishes of Ms. Cynthia Karenge. On the division of the property the court will set a future date for a hearing, next case!”
I walked out without ever setting my eyes on her and now as I stand on my balcony looking at the beautiful kids playing, I feel nothing but betrayal when I remember mine ended somewhere in a hospital incinerator.
©Chrispus Kimaru 2010
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